BIRTHS will no longer be offered at Terang Hospital by the end of this year.
From December 31, births will no longer be able to take place at Terang Hospital and will instead be moved to South West Healthcare's Camperdown and Warrnambool hospitals.
Pregnancy and post-birthing services will still be offered through the Terang Medical Clinic and Maternal and Child Health Nurse Service.
Terang Mortlake Health Service chief executive Julia Odgin said the new model was required to retain local services and deliver safe maternal care.
"It is critical our community has access to 24 hour obstetric and maternity care, while accessing the best available infrastructure and specialist capabilities," she said.
"Under this model pregnancy care and post-birthing services will continue to be offered in Terang.
"This collaborative approach will mean women and families in our communities prior and after birth, with support from neighbouring services."
The announcement came as a shock to many readers of The Standard online:
"Worst decision ever! I had all four of my children at Terang and the level of care is fantastic," said Laura Wynd.
"This is just so sad!" said Rose Messer. "Three kids, two in big town hospitals and one at Terang. Terang was by far the best birth experience I had - shame it was my last. What a loss to the local women. I'm so grateful to have had the time there I did."
"How ridiculous, this is the best hospital to be in, the nurses are amazing, two of my kids were born there," said Courtney Laurie.
"This breaks my heart. I delivered all four of my babies at Terang. Their skill is amazing and the care was nothing but exceptional," said Monique Delaney.
Catriona Carroll said it was "devastating for the town".
Ms Odgin said there would be no job losses as a result.
"The Terang Hospital is a mixed, multipurpose space so beds can be used flexibly to meet the varying needs of our patient cohort," she said.
"Currently Terang and Mortlake Health Service's maternity unit delivers 20-25 babies each year."
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